The classroom component for client advocacy placements combines both civil and criminal practice and addresses common issues of indigent client representation.
The Public Interest and Advocacy Placements offer students the opportunity to learn about lawyering while contributing to the betterment of the lives of people who sometimes have no voice in the legal system: those at the bottom of the economic scale, the victims of domestic violence, tenants, public assistance recipients, the disabled, the mentally ill, the elderly, the homeless and children suffering abuse and neglect. Depending on the particular office, selected students may work directly with clients; complete traditional research and writing assignments; participate in field investigations; prepare witnesses and attend and/or participate in court hearings and/or engage in policy discussions and advocacy. All responsibilities are performed under the supervision of an experienced attorney in the designated office. Students will also participate in a classroom session focusing on substantive poverty law areas as well as the legal, political and ethical issues surrounding legal services and public interest advocacy.
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Indigent defendants charged with other than capital crimes are represented by the Public Defender offices of each county and by assigned lawyers. Students may apply for placement with the NYS Defenders Association (a back-up center for Public Defender offices) or with one of the participating Public Defender offices listed below. Students may not be placed with private attorneys. Most students placed at these offices will be involved in direct client representation. Tasks may include research and writing, fact investigation, interviewing witnesses, jail visits, court observation, client counseling, and trial and motion work. Students placed at the participating offices listed below are required to participate in the weekly classroom session of the Public Defender Placement.
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